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Falcon's Mistress (Berkley Sensation) by Donna Birdsell

  • Author: Donna Birdsell
  • Book title: Falcon's Mistress (Berkley Sensation)
  • Category: Romance
  • Subcategory: Historical
  • Publisher: Berkley (October 4, 2005)
  • ISBN: 0425206343
  • ISBN13: 978-0425206348
  • Rating: 4.4
  • Votes: 203
  • Other formats: mobi lrf azw doc
When the Duke of Canby, a secret spy for the Crown on a mission to France, discovers that his falconer, Selena Hewitt, has been arrested for his own faked murder, he returns to England to save the only woman he has ever loved. Original.

7 Reviews
The fine tradition of falconing has been an essential part of the Canby duchy for years, and caring for those falcons is the family tradition of the Downings. Selena Downing Hewitt, current Falconer for Lockwell Hall, has a passion for her falcons and an all-consuming love for the seventeenth Duke of Canby, John Markley. Though three years separate their ages, they've been best friends for most of their lives. On Canby's twentieth birthday he asked Selena to be his mistress, but she refused, knowing she would love him forever, yet wanting more out of life than to be a kept woman.

Not long after her refusal, Canby disappeared and all those who loved him assumed him dead. Selena stayed on as Falconer for Lockwell Hall, caring for the birds they both adored and missing Canby every day of her life. Now, evidence has surfaced that suggests Canby's disappearance was the result of murder and the Dowager Duchess, Canby's mother, is pointing the finger at Selena. The sooner Selena is convicted of Canby's murder, the sooner the crown will strip Canby of his title and turn it over to the Duchess's second son, Randolph.

John Markley, the seventeenth Duke of Canby, has loved Selena Hewitt for as long as he can remember. They grew up together, becoming fast friends while sharing a passion for his estate's falcons. On his twentieth birthday he finally worked up the nerve to ask the woman of his dreams to be his for all eternity. He was shocked and destroyed when she not only refused him, but also informed him that she was to marry another man. Unable to face a world in which Selena would always be within reach, but would belong to someone else, Canby shirked his responsibilities and joined an underground spy network bent on acquiring information for the Crown and foiling the plans of their enemies. In the guise of Jack Pearce, aka The Falcon, Canby now spies on the French nobility. In the midst of his latest assignment, Canby hears news that Selena is on trial for his supposed murder. Even after six years apart, his feelings for her are still strong, so he returns to England, hoping to save her life.

When Selena and Canby are thrown together once again, their feelings for each other are even stronger than they were before, but society's rules have changed little. Society will never accept a Falconer's daughter as the next Duchess of Canby. Will Selena and Canby finally find a way to be together that they both can live with, or will Canby leave again, to return to the life of a spy for the Crown?

Falcon's Mistress is one of the most enjoyable reading experiences I've ever had. Ms. Birdsell's voice is so suited to historical romance that I felt transferred into the distant past. She brought her world to life for me in bright, vivid detail and each page I turned, I enjoyed more than the last.

Selena is a proud woman, more than worthy of the title that marriage to Canby would afford her. Ms. Birdsell expertly conveys Selena's emotions, making her real to me in her love for Canby, her frustration at the societal rules that keep them apart, and her fear at spending the rest of her life in jail for a crime she didn't commit. Selena is one of those heroines I won't soon forget, and one of the biggest reasons this book belongs on my keeper shelf to be read and re-read through the years.

Canby is a bit of an enigma. One minute he's the boy-next-door Beta hero of my girlhood dreams, and the next he morphs into the mystifying Alpha spy of my grown-up fantasies. The combination is heady and exhilarating, even at those times I'd like to bash him over the head for his behavior.

I've read very few Georgian-set romances, so I have little to compare Falcon's Mistress to in that regard. I can, however, compare it to other historical suspense romances and say, unequivocally, that this is one of the finest. From the first page, to the last word, Falcon's Mistress had me riveted. This story has something for everyone: a tender love story, a conniving family, intrigues around every corner. It's a fast-paced, page-turner that kept me up all night.

I am beyond thrilled to learn that Ms. Birdsell is in the process of writing the second book in the Georgian Spies Series, which will finally give us the story of Canby's cousin, Ethan Gray. This book, due in October of 2006, is right at the top of my Must Buy list for the New Year. I look forward to seeing what Ms. Birdsell has in store for Ethan, and fervently hope we get at least a small glimpse of what Selena and Canby are up to in the future.


Reviewed for Joyfully Reviewed
I actually liked the painting on the cover better than I liked the book. To many loose ends and not enough fire between Canby/Jack Trenton and Selena to make it a workable love match. Canby's Mother's dislike for her son Canby was unnatural and the explaination for it was, hokey! Also what she did to Selena was unforgiveable (Prison and hanging) and yet she asked for forgiveness at the end! She never recieved any kind of punishment for what she did nor did Letitia for her murder attemps! If that wasn't enough, not even so much as a reprimand from Canby or Selena! All is just forgotten.The ending was unexplained like most of the book... how did Canby/Jack/Trenton with Selena end up living in Philadelphia running a glorified pet shop, after his being such a valued spy for England against America! No explaination... if he was still a British spy sent to America or a pet shop owner????!!!! LOL
From the back cover:

The Duke of Canby has been missing and presumed dead for six years before the fateful day when his clothes are found in the forest--and his falconer, Selena Hewitt, is accused of his murder. But Canby lives...

Known as The Falcon, Canby is a spy, working as a lowly servant in the mews of a French castle, privy to the secrets of the nobility. But when news of Selena's imprisonment reaches him, Canby knows he much return to England to save the only woman he has ever loved. His sudden reemergence into society will come at a price to his freedom and to his country. And the ultimate cost to him may be Selena herself...

And my review:

I bought this book because I'd really enjoyed this author's debut novel The Painted Rose (Berkley Sensation). It was a book I found on a discount table, and I decided to take a chance on a new author. That book was a very good read, good enough that it made it onto my keeper shelf. I put Donna Birdsell on my auto-buy list.

But I was a little disappointed with FALCON'S MISTRESS. I felt that the romance was on the back burner for most of the book. For instance, though the hero rescuses the heroine, he does so in disguise. The heroine has no idea that her rescuer is actually the man she has loved for years. I felt that could have been a real "sparks flying" situation that just wasn't developed to its full potential.

The author was great with a good balance of prose and dialogue. Her writing is flowing and easy to read without being too simple. She is great at her history, her intrigue, at strained family relationships, at keeping all her little subplots going without confusing the reader...but that last point was also one of the drawbacks. I felt that all the subplots took over so much that the romance was pushed aside. The hero and heroine spend lots of time apart (which can be annoying in a romance) while the intrigue storylines develop.

Basically, this was not historical romance with an intrigue subplot, this was historical fiction with a little romance to spice it up. So whether you will like this book or not will depend a lot on how you feel about that. If you read romance wanting the main focus of the book to be on the developing relationship between the hero and heroine, you're going to be disappointed. If you like historical fiction and don't care that much about the romance, then you will probably love it.

One other complaint: the hero once offered to make the heroine his mistress. She had too much respect for herself to do so (good for her!), but the hero was a little bitter about it. He had a bit of a "I'm so great, why on earth would she turn me down?" attitude that was a little annoying. He couldn't understand why a woman of her station wouldn't leap at the chance to climb into his bed. And she decides to get married to the man her father chose for her, the hero has the audacity to get mad at the heroine! Like she's a witch for wanting respectability and a family. How dare she not be falling all over herself to become his kept woman! Grrr.

I would recommend THE PAINTED ROSE over FALCON'S MISTRESS. I think the author did a much better job of the relationship in that book, and that the characters were better developed. FALCON'S MISTRESS is good for historical fiction, but if you want lots of romance, you'll have to look elsewhere.
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